Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and National Institutes of Health R01 Research Awards: Is There Evidence of a Double Bind for Women of Color?

Acad Med. 2016 Aug;91(8):1098-107. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001278.


Purpose: To analyze the relationship between gender, race/ethnicity, and the probability of being awarded an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Method: The authors used data from the NIH Information for Management, Planning, Analysis, and Coordination grants management database for the years 2000-2006 to examine gender differences and race/ethnicity-specific gender differences in the probability of receiving an R01 Type 1 award. The authors used descriptive statistics and probit models to determine the relationship between gender, race/ethnicity, degree, investigator experience, and R01 award probability, controlling for a large set of observable characteristics.

Results: White women PhDs and MDs were as likely as white men to receive an R01 award. Compared with white women, Asian and black women PhDs and black women MDs were significantly less likely to receive funding. Women submitted fewer grant applications, and blacks and women who were new investigators were more likely to submit only one application between 2000 and 2006.

Conclusions: Differences by race/ethnicity explain the NIH funding gap for women of color, as white women have a slight advantage over men in receiving Type 1 awards. Findings of a lower submission rate for women and an increased likelihood that they will submit only one proposal are consistent with research showing that women avoid competition. Policies designed to address the racial and ethnic diversity of the biomedical workforce have the potential to improve funding outcomes for women of color.

MeSH terms

  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data
  • Awards and Prizes*
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)*
  • Probability
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors*
  • United States
  • White People / statistics & numerical data